Sunday Sevens..14 August

Saturday breakfast

Somehow, Saturday morning breakfasts are the best of the week, not only time to make these little scotch pancakes (they are low GI and wholemeal!) but all the lovely promise of two days to enjoy.

We went on with our local to Glorious Goodwood Ladies Day, it was a beautiful morning – I think I enjoyed seeing the outfits more than the horses. This red dress really caught my eye – these sisters were enjoying pimms before the racing. Unfortunately, after an hour of sunshine the rain set in! At one point we could barely see the horses! I came home with the same money I left with – having only lost one bet! which was quite an achievement.

cucumber

My cucumber is really doing well – the fruits are enormous! We are investigating a couple of recipes for preservation – it would be nice to enjoy the freshness for as long as possible. My tomato plants are also giving a few ripe fruits – delicious and sweet. It has encouraged me to buy some winter cabbage and spinach seeds to see us through the winter. The veg box I bought a couple of weeks ago is still going strong – with a few fattening leeks among the seeding herbs.

We took a trip to Little Woodham in Gosport – it is a delightful little living history village – populated by re-enactors of the mid 16th Century. More on this visit soon.

cheesecake

 

We are enjoying having the Aga – it is our only cooker – it’s gentle heat is always welcome – despite the summer our kitchen remains pleasant. I decided to try a cooked cheesecake recipe – as the warming oven is perfect.

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I find that if you cook the biscuit base with the cheesecake it comes out all soggy – so I made the cheesecake first then added the biscuits to the top.

Cheese cake Aga

It might look a little messy, but it takes delicious!

Breakfast poached peaches

Mr D made some poached peaches for breakfast on Sunday… enough to bring the sunshine for the rest of the week.

Outlander Series one and The Witches Daughter – book review

Outlander-TV_series-2014

We bought an Amazon TV stick and have been enjoying some great films; this Series kept on popping up in our feed, so we decided to try it.

The basic story is about an Army Nurse in the 1940’s who is visiting Scotland with her husband after the war. One day she visits a standing stone circle and falls back in time by 200 years.

I really enjoyed the first half of the series, it was great learning about the clan culture and seeing Claire navigate her way in another time. She used her knowledge to heal and earned respect for her skills. She falls in love with one of the characters (I’ll try not to spoil it) but somehow when we reached two thirds of the way in I began to feel my interest waning.  How many times did she ignore advice and get herself in trouble? I find I was getting restless at her inability  to learn from her mistakes.

Beyond episode 11, I was watching it alone, Mr D having lost interest and it was becoming too romantic even for my interest, but the final episode left me frustrated and angry! What began as a promising tale – seemed to take a turn that left me feeling uncomfortable to watch. It seems to me that current box sets seem to desire to push boundaries, but I find it difficult to understand why the last episode would be so dire.

We became sucked into Game of Thrones a few months back – the first series was gripping, but when we reached the end of series five I felt sickened by the sheer violence depicted and refuse to watch any more. (Seriously, seeing someone squeeze a person’s eyeballs out of their sockets is gruesome! a final straw after episode after episode of skinning people alive, cutting off hands, beheading and poisoning, it is not my idea of entertainment)

However, I shall give the second series of Outlander another chance in order to recover the initial enthusiasm, maybe try and see if the books are any better than the TV series, Game of Thrones readers say there is not the same level of violence in the books.

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Outlander left me with an interest in time travelling tales: The Witches Daughter was an interesting read. I am not really into witchcraft but I do love the concept of fantasy and adventure.

Bess sees her mother hanged as a witch, with good reason it turns out. She is taught how to cast spells by a warlock called Gideon, who eventually helps her to become immortal. We follow Bess through three lives with Gideon hot on her tail.

It is an entertaining story , Paula Brackston is a talented writer: the story moves quickly and easily to a satisfying conclusion.

A good read I will give it five stars.

What do you think of time travelling tales?

Sunday Sevens – 26 June 2016

I loved this Threadcount pattern when it arrived with June’s issue Love Sewing Magazine – a perfect dress to attend a  wedding, you can read all about it here.

Elderflowers

The Elder Bushes come into flower in early June – there was an abundance of flowers just outside my house! I made about 4 pints of Elderflower cordial which I froze this year in milk cartons (last year the cordial did not keep well). The cordial helps when I have migraines to get the full benefit it needs to be quite strong. I tend to use a whole wicker basket full of flowers in two pints of syrup. If you would like to make some you can find the recipe here on a previous blog post.

Blue eggs

I took this week off – there is nothing more delightful than a stay-cation. The main bonus is that I had more time to potter – there is a wonderful chicken farm just outside Felpham, called Rookery Farm, you can see the chickens happily wandering the great big fields – I just don’t trust supermarket’s anymore.  I prefer to visit the farm because you can buy a tray of misshapes for the same price as a dozen ordinary eggs.  They had a few  new Moran Hens in the flock they produce beautiful blue eggs – I could not resist buying these. I would like some Moran’s of my own, (they can also produce dark brown chocolate coloured eggs) I just haven’t got round to it yet – and with Rookery Farm virtually on our doorstep I wonder if if would be worth all the effort. My last hens suffered so badly with red spider mite – no matter how much we tried I am not sure I could go through it all again.

Artisan Bread

After visiting the farm my next stop was the French Artisan baker in Bairds’ Farm shop a couple of years ago the shop was really struggling for custom but since the baker moved in I am pleased to see that business is thriving. I am glad that we are beginning to appreciate quality over cost – supermarkets nearly pushed independent’s out of  business – I just wish most people would understand the connection between the way supermarket bread is manufactured and the rise in ‘wheat intolerance’. I cannot eat supermarket bread without getting really ill, but French bread, made from French wheat, doesn’t make me ill at all!

 

To my delight I  discovered the Farm Shop had a new little garden centre – called the Plant Yard, run by two lovely lady florists – the plant containers were irresistible. I usually get a veg box from Riverford but this time I did one better, I bought this lovely veg garden planter, containing, carrots, leeks, chives, parsley, sage and mint. Mr D was delighted!

Next on my shopping list was Edgecombes near Ford – they import their own coffee and roast it on the premises, I am not a huge fan of coffee but I love their Latte’s the are not bitter at all. They also do a great selection of teas – their house blend Assam is just wonderful. I know that supermarkets are convenient, but I would love to have time to shop like this every day – it is such a sensual experience.

Pool room greenhouse

I have combined the pool room into a little green house, we have three huge patio windows and the climate is very steamy at times which I hope would be good for plants. It is my first steps into gardening.

Every morning as I water the plants it gives me such a thrill to see how the plants grow: have tiny cucumbers, green tomatoes and button courgettes. The mange tout has taken a while to establish – not abundant enough for a meal, but deliciously sweet little treats now and then. The cucumber has reached the height of the room and the tiny cucumbers are starting to peek out from the flowers – although it took me so many attempts to capture these – somehow all three cameras, my phone, iPad and my cannon, struggled to focus on the baby green cucumber, this is the best I could do!

Barnham signal box

We went to vote on the referendum (oh my, I cannot say how concerned I am about the outcome – my worst fears have already been confirmed and it has only been a few days!) I wanted  to share this lovely signal box (it has been restored by a group of miniature railway enthusiasts) next to the polling station.  I was very envious of the lovely raised bed of vegetables they looked great.

garden furniture tool

I spent a few days happily sewing in my studio and the rest of the week I spent tidying up the garden. I made the mistake of buying some garden furniture without Mr D, we usually ‘get a man in’ for all our DIY so have absolutely no tools in the house. The garden furniture came flat packed with this little tool to put it together! I don’t think we will make the same mistake again!

Sunday Sevens is the great idea of Nat of Threads and Bobbins – why not join in the fun?

Memories of the 1970’s

twinkle annual

I adore Pinterest, recently I came across a 1970’s toy feed and the memories came flooding back! If you are a similar age, then I sure these will bring back happy memories too. I used to get the Twinkle Annual – every christmas.. do you remember those? Mandy was an older version and then it moved to other magazines. I loved the doll hospital stories in Twinkle, she had such a pretty nurses uniform.

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Did you have one of these drawing sets? I remember sticking the pin in the paper and turning the wheel to the right number.. all those squiggles eventually came out with disney characters. Why they didn’t just make stencils I don’t know! Perhaps it was educational!

I had a Sindy doll, not a Barbie and I had this cardboard house with this kitchen sink! I remember we had the exact same kitchen units in our house – they were white and chocolate brown… !

tressy doll

I think this is the american advert, because I remember calling my doll Tressy! She had a wind up key in her back and you could either wind it up to make her hair shorter, or longer! I remember the curlers got into horrendous knots all the time!

haunted house

Just looking at this board brings back such fond memories of playing it with my Brother and my Nanna. It had traps that if you landed on the hat would come down and you would have to start at the beginning. That is the trap at the bottom of the stairs!

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I remember having one of these when I was quite little, I think mine was a disney cinderella! It worked on batteries and it was quite powerful. Of course this was a cut down version of my parent’s cine cameras… we would have movie nights watching our home made films in the dark! It was such fun.

selection boxes

Did you have a selection box in your Christmas stocking? I remember picnic bars were always the ones I left until last because I didn’t like the raisins! Flakes were my favourite!

national dolls

My dad used to go away to sea and usually came back with one of these international dolls. My Gran, who was Scottish had one of these. I had a lovely dutch doll with a lace cap and clogs on her feet, but it was the Spanish flamenco dancer I loved the most.

pippa doll

I loved my Pippa dolls they were smaller than Sindy dolls so I could take them about with me. I remember she also had some furniture on a smaller scale. I also had an Amanda Jane with really lovey doll furniture – you could get the most amazing outfits for Amanda Jane, including a very detailed brownie outfit.

Play house

I remember getting one of these houses for Christmas 1976, I used to set it out with cushions and dolls and spend hours playing in it. It was a bit hot though, being plastic in that long hot summer!

chocolate machine

It must have been the same year that I was given one of these, you could buy refill boxes back then, lots of individually wrapped chocolate! Needless to say, my vending machine spent most of its time empty!

view master

These little machines were wonderful – I remember having a set for Lady and the Tramp, in those days the disney films were only available at the cinema – often meaning queueing for a good hour before the film! I remember seeing Song of the South – still find Zipidee do dah a cheery tune.

whimsies

Did you collect whimsies? They were virtually unbreakable – I dropped mine so many times. I think you could buy them for about 50p!

Did any of this bring back happy memories for you?

 

 

 

 

Frumpy to flirty

For those who don’t follow my sewing blog (apologies to those who do) here is my latest project…

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I adore charity shops there seems no end of inspiration. It might just be my own obstacle, but am fearless to alter items bought secondhand that I would hesitate to alter new!  Thrift store or charity shop seem to bring out my adventurous  side- especially if there are only a few pounds at stake!

Sundress before frontThis dress caught my eye – I knew the style was not right for my body shape but the fabric thrilled me so much I bought it anyway. It is your standard maxi sundress – with a shirred top, you can find lots of dresses like these at the moment, even in charity shops.

Summer sundress fabric

As you can see this fabric is wild! Lots of different colours going on – including different coloured backgrounds. the great thing is that there is no directional design, it all seems to flow freely, which makes pattern cutting easy.

Sundress before

You can see from this picture why this dress style doesn’t work for me – the uni-boob is not a flattering look! My waist has completely disappeared and as this dress falls from my boobs, it has added excess inches around my whole body! As if I need any more inches adding! lol.

Sundress skirt length

Look what happens when I lower the gathering down to the waistline, it already looks a lot more flattering. It is a very generous skirt, there is lots of fabric to play with – and definitely enough to make a top half! While the shirring is a great scale for bodice, it is a little too wide for my waistline- so I shall shorten it and remove the top edge.

Vintage 1950's pattern

My inspiration for this re-fashioning came from a vintage 1950’s pattern –   the gypsy top element to this dress pattern is a delight! When I was growing up in the 1970’s gypsy skirts and tops were everywhere I loved swirling around in my circular skirt – an enduring link with hot summers and gypsy style remains with me today. I love the way the puffy sleeves give a bit of balance to the full skirt in this pattern it emphasises the hourglass shape. It is unashamedly girlie!

New Look top 6277

Given my love of gypsy tops, it won’t surprise you that I had this pattern in my stash! I wanted the bottom left style – intending just the top section to be used for this re-cycling dress. Somewhat less of a square neckline than the 1905’s pattern- but the sleeves would more likely cover dreaded bra straps! (Monster bra straps are a necessity for the larger bust!)

New Look no longer sell this pattern, but there are a couple of similar ones that would work just as well. New look 6892, or New Look 6891.

Take largest pattern piece and measure the overall length  this will determine how much fabric you need to cut off the bottom of the skirt. As mine is a maxi skirt I had plenty of fabric to play with so I ended up with a circle of fabric that was just a little bit longer than my top pattern piece.

The key here, is not to un-pick any seams: as it will reduce your overall available material. I folded the fabric over with a seam running straight at a fold and then cut the bodice piece with  the centre front at the ‘fold’.

My fabric was so wild that the original seams disappeared, even though one old seam ran across one of my sleeves at a corner edge, the material still remained intact. The pattern matching was easy, but I did make sure the pattern pieces went in the direction of the dress, e.g. the top of the pattern piece was at the top edge of the fabric.

Upcycled dress neckline with decorative elastic edge

The main feature of a gypsy top is the gathered edge that is either elasticated or gathered by using a cord. I had this delightful heart shaped lingerie elastic, so gently zig-zagged it on to bring the neckline in.

If you are using any of the patterns listed above, shorten the bodice and back to just below the waistline, then add the dress to the lower bodice edge. The shirred section is now the waistline.

It is just a case of then finishing your hem edge, we are so used to seeing overlocked edges I decided to finish mine in black.

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I don’t think this dress is far from the original 1950’s pattern inspiration – more importantly it makes the most of my waist which is more flattering.

As an re-vamping overall I am very pleased with the results – so much so that I am going to scour the local shops for more!

 

Lost post? Sunday Sevens

New Home card

My lovely daughter moved home this week so I made her a little card to wish her well! It is also her Birthday this weekend so will be cake making! Family visiting and we are also following the Chichester Art Trail!

Mr D had a bit of a sort out last weekend – we ended up with a pile of 20 shirts that he no longer wanted to wear. I could not resist the lovely soft cottons so have been working on a little project – can you guess what I am making?

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The Colour me positive weekly challenge was ‘Art opens the closets, airs out the cellars and attics, Art brings healing’. It’s a Julia Cameron quote from the Artists way.  To be honest with you I think Art brings its own baggage with it; while it might be relaxing it can also be frustrating – things never turn out the way you visualise them. I have to battle the inner critic every time I pick up a pencil or a brush, but there are blissful moments when you can get lost in a sketch for a while. I am enjoying the challenge of having to create something and once a week is manageable – alothough this image is a lot darker in my book than it appears on here.

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This is the book group choice this month and what a gem! I cannot recommend this book enough! It is certainly original, Emma Healey is a talented writer you would never imagine she is in her twenties! Maud is a wonderfully entertaining old lady, I smiled, I laughed, I sighed – it was quite an adventure, one that I would like to read again sometime.

Here is the intro in case it peeks your interest –

Elizabeth is Missing, Emma Healey’s stunning debut novel, introduces a mystery, an unsolved crime and one of the most unforgettable characters since Mark Haddon’s Christopher. Meet Maud …

‘Elizabeth is missing’, reads the note in Maud’s pocket in her own handwriting.

Lately, Maud’s been getting forgetful. She keep

s buying peach slices when she has a cupboard full, forgets to drink the cups of tea she’s made and writes notes to remind herself of things. But Maud is determined to discover what has happened to her friend, Elizabeth, and what it has to do with the unsolved disappearance of her sister Sukey, years back, just after the war.

A fast-paced mystery with a wonderful leading character: Maud will make you laugh and cry, but she certainly won’t be forgotten.

 

The beautiful Keeley Hawes is extremely talented – the two characters she has been playing DI Denton in Line of Duty and Mrs Durrell in the Durrells could not be more different! I am bereft on Sunday nights now!  – I am just missing the querky Durrells and the blissful Corfu sunshine  what a shame it had to end!

mast-home-fires-5-things-hires

The fantastic Home Fires was also keeping me parked in front of the Telly – who would have thought Pat (on the right) would get the courage to have an affair!  I am the secretary for our local WI and I can assure you we are not half as sparky as these ladies. I am really disappointed to hear that there won’t be another series! I even signed a petition!

Sunday Sevens is the fabulous idea of Nat over at Threads and Bobbins, where you give a little round up of your week, if you want to participate pop over to her blog and sign up! Its such a great way to link up with other bloggers.

Sunday Sevens -8 May 2016

New Home card

My lovely daughter moved home this week so I made her a little card to wish her well! It is also her Birthday this weekend so will be cake making! Family visiting and we are also following the Chichester Art Trail!

Mr D had a bit of a sort out last weekend – we ended up with a pile of 20 shirts that he no longer wanted to wear. I could not resist the lovely soft cottons so have been working on a little project – can you guess what I am making?

colour me positive 18

The Colour me positive weekly challenge was ‘Art opens the closets, airs out the cellars and attics, Art brings healing’. It’s a Julia Cameron quote from the Artists way.  To be honest with you I think Art brings its own baggage with it; while it might be relaxing it can also be frustrating – things never turn out the way you visualise them. I have to battle the inner critic every time I pick up a pencil or a brush, but there are blissful moments when you can get lost in a sketch for a while. I am enjoying the challenge of having to create something and once a week is manageable – alothough this image is a lot darker in my book than it appears on here.

9780241968185

This is the book group choice this month and what a gem! I cannot recommend this book enough! It is certainly original, Emma Healey is a talented writer you would never imagine she is in her twenties! Maud is a wonderfully entertaining old lady, I smiled, I laughed, I sighed – it was quite an adventure, one that I would like to read again sometime.

Here is the intro in case it peeks your interest –

Elizabeth is Missing, Emma Healey’s stunning debut novel, introduces a mystery, an unsolved crime and one of the most unforgettable characters since Mark Haddon’s Christopher. Meet Maud …

‘Elizabeth is missing’, reads the note in Maud’s pocket in her own handwriting.

Lately, Maud’s been getting forgetful. She keep

s buying peach slices when she has a cupboard full, forgets to drink the cups of tea she’s made and writes notes to remind herself of things. But Maud is determined to discover what has happened to her friend, Elizabeth, and what it has to do with the unsolved disappearance of her sister Sukey, years back, just after the war.

A fast-paced mystery with a wonderful leading character: Maud will make you laugh and cry, but she certainly won’t be forgotten.

 

The beautiful Keeley Hawes is extremely talented – the two characters she has been playing DI Denton in Line of Duty and Mrs Durrell in the Durrells could not be more different! I am bereft on Sunday nights now!  – I am just missing the querky Durrells and the blissful Corfu sunshine  what a shame it had to end!

mast-home-fires-5-things-hires

The fantastic Home Fires was also keeping me parked in front of the Telly – who would have thought Pat (on the right) would get the courage to have an affair!  I am the secretary for our local WI and I can assure you we are not half as sparky as these ladies. I am really disappointed to hear that there won’t be another series! I even signed a petition!

Sunday Sevens is the fabulous idea of Nat over at Threads and Bobbins, where you give a little round up of your week, if you want to participate pop over to her blog and sign up! Its such a great way to link up with other bloggers.

Me Made May 2016

Susanna Di Milo

Original pledge on my sewing blog on the 30th April but no-one seems to find my sewing blog – ;-(

please visit if you can, thanks!
I, Susanna of made for mi pledge that I shall wear a home-made item twice a week during May.

I also pledge to make at least two items in May using fabric from my stash.

Thanks Thimberlina for telling all!

Art Challenge 18 April

Colour Me Positive Week 16 Challenge

Art Challenge 18 April

I discovered this weekly art challenge through facebook, ok I am a bit late to the party which began in January, but who cares!  It has been too long since I did any art – and like the saying goes, I lost myself completely. The process was a bit bumpy, I usually jump straight in;  this time, I played around a little with one or two ideas until eventually I came up with a design I am happy with. While I might have a general idea, I never know the outcome as it seems to grow – I just add bits here and there.

After taking about an hour to do this, I thought I would add a final line between the words US and TWO – it was disastrous! Then I put a white marker over which created a large grey splodge right in the middle! The whole thing was ruined at a stroke!

Trying not to panic I pasted a couple of pieces of paper over the bottle top – and re-did it!

So this really does live up to its name, the work was lost but now it is found!

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If you fancy having a go – pop over to Lulu’s art blog, there is lots of inspiration and some great journals.

Sunday Sevens – Glasgow and Mackintosh

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We headed north for Mr D’s family gathering, it is the second time I have left a beautiful sunny day only to find Glasgow drizzly and grey, but the weather in Glasgow is its only downfall. It is a wonderful city the people are friendly, they have a sense of humour, this is a famous landmark – Wellington on his horse adorned with traffic cone! It was one of the challenges after a boozy night to place a cone on his head that in the end the cone was left as part of the statue and to save Glaswegian’s from injuring themselves, it is quite high up!  The statue  sums up the sense of humour the Scotts have towards the English – irreverent!

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The architecture around the City is abundant with delights especially if you like Art Nouveau – it can be discovered everywhere: this lovely building is just an ordinary pub!  Glasgow  is home of some of the most wonderful examples of the Glasgow Four – Mackintosh being the most well known. He designed the School of Art building (under reconstruction after the fire last year) Several Mrs Cranstons Tea rooms, as well as other projects in the city. Some regarded him as the father of Art Deco movement – you can see that in the wonderful use of simplistic lines, geometry and organic shapes. His house, set within the Huntarian  transforms a traditional Victorian Villa into the cool clean lines of Art Deco – with clever use of colour and optical illusion.

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There are small items to spot every few yards – this beautiful Art Nouveau detail was situated on a large building – I could not resist the curving lines and the way the numbers flow into each other.

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If you love architecture then you have to look upwards, this beautiful Art Nouveau building shows just how much it influenced the Art Deco period, those long windows and angular lines echo the aesthetics of Mackintosh we later see at Hill House, see below.

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Just ten minutes outside of Glasgow the landscape is transformed into wild hills and breathtaking views – we drove along the road past Loch Lomond and on to Helensburgh and Hill House. Now owned by the National Trust for Scotland, it is a complete example of Mackintosh’s work – he was commissioned by Glasgow Publisher Walter Blackie who remained living at the house until the National Trust took it over. Art Nouveau Artists believed their art should encompass every aspect of the house from the building right down to the tiny details  of the room decoration; the internal design was as carefully planned as the house house itself. Even the kitchen shelving contained small flower shaped motifs – even though the owners would never set foot inside as they employed a cook.

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I believe Margaret contributed equally to her husband’s work; he praised her often believing she was the real talent of the two although her work was mostly disregarded until a few years ago when the May Queen was bought for 1 million. It was an absolute thrill  to see her artwork up close – she was exceptional -one of the few women to attend Glasgow School of Art in the late Victorian age when women’s education, even for the wealthy, was limited.  She learned smithing, needlework as well as traditional painting and drawing.  The are panels on the walls – her gesso plasterwork was a delight the curved lines and swirls of fay women – reminded me of Beardsley’s Fairy tales. The embroidery on the chairs and two beautiful panels in the main bedroom were her own design as well as curtains featuring flowing geometrics and curving organic shapes in black and white.

The classic rose motif stencilled on to the walls –  is a element throughout the house, the palette is muted, predominantly black and white with a tiny dots of rose coloured blocks or  flowers. The furniture was created to cast shadows that danced with the squares on the carpet, shifting as the sun moved across the sky – while the lamps featured rose circles reminiscent of honesty flowers – their discs harmonising with the straight lines of the lamps continued the effect at night.

 

On the eastern side of the house a round tower soars above the roof, with a spiral staircase – connecting the nursery to the schoolroom – it is also echoed by a smaller tower in the garden that acts as a toolshed. He designed the nursery on the Eastern side of the house to benefit from the early morning sun – while the Master Bedroom on the opposite side would capture the setting sun. All the living areas face south to make the most of the sunlight.

Despite their talent Margaret and Rene died in relative poverty, the first world war brought Art Nouveau to an abrupt end – it seems such a pity that they were not given the recognition in their lifetime, they could have had the commercial success of William Morris, but their influence and vision continued through to the Art Deco movement at its height in the 1930s.

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There was so much to delight the eye – meticulous attention to detail from every nook!  It is so inspirational that I am sketching again with an idea of a painting forming.

For any Art Nouveau lover – Hill House it is well worth a visit – the gardens have the most wonderful view across the river and are beautiful even in cold frosty April.

My only advice is – no- matter how delightfully sunny the weather when you set off – always take an umbrella when you visit Glasgow!

ttfn x

Sunday sevens is the brain child of Nat at Threads and Bobbins a round up of your life in 7 pictures, posted on a Sunday. I don’t  post every week – (my life isn’t that exciting) but I do post when there is more in my life than cake baking, washing and housework!